“Yes, I do need all of those clothes,” I testily tell my husband as he looks disapprovingly at my pair of suitcases standing ready for 4 weeks abroad.
This scene has played itself out repeatedly over the years. And I honestly don’t know why he bothers complaining about my luggage.
“Because I have to carry them,” he will explain.
Only a short distance, I think to myself. From the flat to the cab. Not Boston to Burma.
I do know how to travel, but it is beyond me how to travel light.
“Could you manage with a “soft” duffle?” he asks as politely as possible.
A short time later I realize that he is not insisting that I actually abandon my two bags. He just wants me to replace one of the hard suitcases with a soft one. It’s more malleable and more suitable for a car journey he explains.
Suddenly I begin to see what is happening. He’s broking me. As a professional, he was a skillful negotiator. But this is personal. And I refuse to come to the table. What possible upside is there for me?
But, figuring fair is fair I comply. Although in the back of my mind I do know he is employing a new strategy by supplanting his initial direct approach for less luggage with a more subtle one. Make no mistake, he is looking for the same result. And he is a patient man. Expertly attempting to chip away at my packing practices. Get her used to a soft duffle, he must be thinking. Then, next trip, suggest a smaller sized one until all my precious outfits have been whittled down to such a petite pile that they will easily fit into one bag instead of two. At which point he will innocently, but slyly remind me of that round the world tour he has been dangling in front of my nose (another strategy to curry favor as well as guilt, no doubt) until I am basically spent of any remaining resolve and delude myself into thinking that carry on would be a cracking idea for 2 months away.
But make no mistake. I am on to him.
However his challenge has inspired me.
Maybe I do need fewer ensembles than I think I do. As an experiment I have counted how many outfits I have worn on this trip so far. Accommodating varying temperatures with jackets and sweaters, activities like golf, even boules, beach garments, evening wear – with matching shoes, including one pristine pair of sensational hot pink stunners by Kate Spade that match not one outfit in my bag but were too pretty to leave at home I have changed clothes 9 times in 5 days until I actually repeated one ensemble on the 5th evening.
Do the math.
If I keep repeating the 8 previously worn items over the next 5 days and continue on in that fashion I might only need to bring 9 outfits for 3 weeks. Maybe a year even?
I kid myself, I know. But there are incentives to a life with less luggage besides my husband’s happiness, which is exceeded only by my desire to look good.
The only thing I hate more than a seriously edited wardrobe is getting stiffed. But that is exactly what happened when we arrived at the airport with my two bags. The cost of the ticket was a reasonable $180.00 per person. We were flying coach, not naked, so we had luggage. Luggage that cost us almost as much as the ticket itself.
Now I have an airline as well as a husband conspiring against me.
That said, I am using this trip as a recon mission. To test what I really need and what I do not.
I have a stylish girlfriend who travels across the whole country with only one tiny bag which has never seen the hold of an airplane. It sits right above her in the overhead compartment containing all her clothes, computer, toiletries and at least two pairs of shoes. She is a magician.
I have also read about travelers who buy slacks that zip off at the knee so they have two outfits in one. So sad.
Packing is a process. Unpacking is too. I hold out very little hope I will be successful scaling down. But I am willing to give it a go and take one for the team. Because as Nicholas Sparks said in The Wedding, “Marriage is about compromise; it’s about doing something for the other person, even when you don’t want to.”
But when it comes to quotes and being honest about negotiating I am still quite partial to this unauthored but insanely smart statement,“Compromise: An amiable arrangement between husband and wife whereby they agree to let her have her own way.”